Beginning April 1 at NHM and April 8 at the Tar Pits, we will reopen for our Members, community partners and general public. Advanced tickets are required for entry for NHM and the museum at La Brea Tar Pits, and can be purchased online. The William S. Hart museum will remain closed until further notice.  See NHMLAC's response to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Make 2021 a Win for Wildlife

The City Nature Challenge, our perennial spring event, is ready to take flight! Here’s a look at a few standout species caught on camera by last year's local and global urban nature explorers

Song Sparrow City Nature Challenge observation 2020
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) observed in Topanga, CA by andreacala

City Nature Challenge is April 30 to May 3, 2021.


Andrea Kreuzhage, a filmmaker and avid iNaturalist user, had found the nest full of baby blue eggs while walking along the side of the road a few weeks earlier. The parks and nature preserves in Los Angeles County had closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and wanting to comply with lockdown protocols while still making urban wildlife observations, Kreuzhage would spend an hour or so at a time walking along stretches of public road, peering into the vegetation for signs of life.

Returning again to observe the nest during the 2020 City Nature Challenge (CNC), she discovered that the eggs had hatched. Four plump, downy chicks occupied the nest under the watchful gaze of a sharp-eyed green heron. “It's so nice in times of crisis to see breeding happening, you know, nature doing what nature does,” said Kreuzhage. “Life goes on.”

Green Heron iNaturalist
Green Heron (Butorides virescens) nest observed in Agoura Hills, CA by andreacala
andreacala

Despite the limitations of the pandemic, the 2020 event attracted the most participants yet. What began in 2016 as a friendly competition between community scientists in San Francisco and Los Angeles, ballooned to an international event with more than 41,000 participants in 244 cities. Lila Higgins, the Museum's Senior Manager of Community Science and co-creator of the CNC, said that she thinks the event has been so successful because it “speaks to the want, the need, and the desire to connect with nature that was already out there.” To take part in the event, participants search the urban landscape for wildlife, using the iNaturalist app to document their findings and connect with other Challenge participants all over the world.

Western Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ssp. testaceus) City Nature Challenge 2020
Western Coachwhip (Masticophis flagellum ssp. testaceus) observed in Nuevo León, Mexico by danieltapaya. iNaturalist lists the snake as Vulnerable in Mexico

During the 2020 Challenge, organizers encouraged participants to be safe, respect the lockdown guidelines implemented in their communities, and to consider emphasizing observations around their home. Jeremy Gilmore, a high school student in Cape Town, South Africa, did just that, making a whopping 834 observations of 394 species around his home and garden. “Because of the restrictions, of course, we're all stuck inside. So it was all reporting species in the garden: insects, birds, plants, the whole lot,” said Gilmore. “I would never have expected to find so much in such a small area.”

Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum)
Cape Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion pumilum) observed in Cape Town, South Africa by jeremygilmore. The reptile is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, the CNC is on for 2021. Again, event organizers are emphasizing safe practices, but also believe the Challenge can be a positive activity during a difficult time. “It was…so nice to connect to the global community on iNaturalist,” said Kreuzhage. “To see that, even though we can't really be physically together right now, that we were still all together [for the CNC].”

Lime Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus) observed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by rhbastardo

Lime Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus) observed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by rhbastardo

Common Brushtail Possum iNaturalist observation 2020 City Nature Challenge

Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) observed in Brisbane, Australia by kjroam

Grey-headed Flying-Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Grey-headed Flying-Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) observed in Victoria, Australia by rover-rod. This animal is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN Red List and is endemic to Australia.

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Lime Swallowtail (Papilio demoleus) observed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic by rhbastardo

Common Brushtail Possum (Trichosurus vulpecula) observed in Brisbane, Australia by kjroam

Grey-headed Flying-Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus) observed in Victoria, Australia by rover-rod. This animal is listed as Vulnerable by IUCN Red List and is endemic to Australia.

The City Nature Challenge is sponsored by

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